Movies about youth & rebellion: The 50 best youth-gone-wild films

Piss off your parents with our countdown of the most ferociously fun movies about youth and rebellion.

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Even the most helicoptering Park Slope parent will admit that some children, adorable though they are, must simply be born bad. Not their children, of course. But these other barbaric youngsters—rebellious, foul-mouthed, sometimes just pure evil—always make it to movie screens, from James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause to the NYC hellspawn of Kids (and all manner of demonically possessed tykes in between). Time Out New York has collected the most shocking of these movies about youth and rebellion and ranked them in a countdown of atrocious behavior. Our only parameter: They must be teens and younger, not twentysomethings. Thankfully for all audiences, these wayward children make the rest of us look good.


50
Youth-gone-wild movies: Footloose (1984)

Footloose (1984)

We’ve got plenty of irresponsibility in store, but let’s begin our list with the gentle, denim-clad rebellion of kicking off your Sunday shoes and dancing to Kenny Loggins. Religious elders are infuriated by all the rock & roll strutting, but everybody comes several degrees closer to Kevin Bacon by film’s end.—Joshua Rothkopf


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49
Youth-gone-wild movies: The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games (2012)

As winning as Jennifer Lawrence is with that bow and arrow, remember that this movie is about kids fighting a gladiatorial battle to the death. Stabbings, slicings and cliquish pack hunting are the activities of a futuristic breed of youth, so desperate for survival that common mercy falls by the wayside.—Joshua Rothkopf


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48
Youth-gone-wild movies: Rumble Fish (1983)

Rumble Fish (1983)

Francis Ford Coppola’s dreamy b&w teen drama centers on a pair of delinquent brothers (Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke) for whom knife fights and motorcycle riding are the norm. Makes perfect sense, considering their dad is played by easy rider Dennis Hopper.—Keith Uhlich


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47
Youth-gone-wild movies: The Ring (2002)

The Ring (2002)

The 1998 Japanese original triggered a wave of evil-technology movies—this was the one about a haunted videocassette that kills you. When Hollywood got around to its unusually excellent remake, the true villain was in our face: ropy-haired Samara (Daveigh Chase), an abused child drowned in a well, intent on ghostly revenge.—Joshua Rothkopf


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46
Youth-gone-wild movies: Dead End (1937)

Dead End (1937)

The famous fictional gang the Dead End Kids had their first outing in a 1934 stage play, but it was William Wyler’s film version that turned them into the standard-bearers for screen delinquents, whatever names they’d go by over the years (the Bowery Boys, the Little Tough Guys).—David Fear


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45
Youth-gone-wild movies: Pretty Poison (1968)

Pretty Poison (1968)

Given his onscreen past, you’d be forgiven for thinking Anthony Perkins’s mental-institution parolee was this comic thriller’s psycho protagonist. But the real crazy turns out to be Tuesday Weld’s beaming high-schooler, who manipulates her fragile new friend to achieve shockingly murderous goals.—Keith Uhlich


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44
Youth-gone-wild movies: Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

Cruel Story of Youth (1960)

Nagisa Oshima referred to his second feature as a story about teens “as the victims of contradictions” in postwar Japan. The more the film’s young-punk lovers rob and extort the local middle-aged men, the stronger the film’s conceit that criminal behavior is a flipped bird to society.—David Fear

43
Youth-gone-wild movies: The Good Son (1993)

The Good Son (1993)

Macaulay Culkin’s head-conking Home Alone antics were just a warm-up: In this memorably vicious boy-gone-bad thriller, America’s favorite child star goes full lunatic, growling at an attack dog, nonchalantly causing a freeway pileup and making life hell for future Frodo Elijah Wood.—Keith Uhlich


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42
Youth-gone-wild movies: Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Not content to simply belch out a typical Warner Bros. social drama, William A. Wellman went the extra mile with this landmark tale of Depression kids who take up the hobo life—and didn’t flinch from showing these tough youngsters losing limbs, stealing food, and mixing it up with railroad cops and everyday citizens.—David Fear


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41
Youth-gone-wild movies: Benny’s Video (1992)

Benny’s Video (1992)

Long before Michael Haneke concocted the ultimate naughty-little-fascists tale, The White Ribbon (2009), the Austrian filmmaker made this movie about a 14-year-old who murders another kid—and films the whole thing for posterity. Haneke’s clinical take on how media desensitization creates underage monsters makes this torn-from-the-headlines drama that much more disturbing.—David Fear



Users say

26 comments
awesome one
awesome one

Where's dazed and confused man. The drugs and celebration of school ending deserves to be on the list

awesome one
awesome one

Where's dazed and confused man. The drugs and celebration of school ending deserves to be on the list

marleigh
marleigh

Why is the Hunger Games on this? KIDS should be number one simply because the kids actually were getting high and drunk on set.

Samit
Samit

La Haine is an excellent movie that is abandoned by the list!

zydecowboy
zydecowboy

my moneys on project x or rivers edge

Frenchseashell
Frenchseashell

WHAAAT!!! Why is "The Wild One" not on this list? One of the greatest movie about youth and alienation next to "Rebel Without A Cause." Who can forget the scene with Johnny riding his bike in the park with Kathie hanging tight, accompanied by the most haunting score in movie history? I get goose bumps just thinking about it. These two movies defined my generation (the 50's). The "cycles", the black and red jackets, the anguish, the desperation, the music, the dialogue, and so much more. I still watch them since they're both on my DVD shelf and I'm 74 years old! You're missing something if you haven't seen it.

Sal C
Sal C

Risky Business, of course! What about The Mighty, Super Bad, Alpha Dog, Stand By Me and Lost Boys!

J.D.
J.D.

They left off the best ones, of course. Pump Up the Volume! Dead Poet's Society! And why not Risky Business?

Pedro
Pedro

Really?! It took three people to come up with this list? Each of them is only one third of the moron that could have written this list. Of the first nine two are not at all about youth gone wild. Hunger Games the kids are forced to do what they do, and the Ring, really. How is that about youth gone wild? The Omen and the Exorcist being about possession. How is that youth gone wild? Time out new york should can or at least proof read articles from these three. I'm sorry, but this is just about the stupidest movie list I have ever read.

Zach sutton
Zach sutton

Where is Donnie Darko or Ferris Bueller?

chris
chris

CITY OF GOD....

Meg
Meg

DAZED AND CONFUSED?????

andrew
andrew

umm...how can thirteen now be on this list?

sweeneyrules
sweeneyrules

I didn't see it on the list, but I assumed City of God would be number one.

Clint
Clint

The Belles of St. Trinians! The kind of girl gone wild I'd actually like to be.

spassky
spassky

That's a nice top 10. Though thought it should have had "Compulsion"...?

Philip
Philip

uh, Quadrophenia? Kids? The Stray Cat Rock series? I could go on and on. This list kind of sucks. How are horror movies like the Omen and the Exorcist and the Good Son even considered "youth gone wild" movies?

Michael
Michael

Mean Creek should be on here. FANTASTIC film!

Mike
Mike

Did I miss Dazed and Confused?

Doe
Doe

virgin suicides should have been on there somewhere as well.

Duder NME
Duder NME

Breaking Away Hey Good Lookin Stand By Me American Graffiti Ferris Bueller's Day Off Trainspotting (though that was more about early twenty-somethings) SLC Punk Once Upon a Time in America (half the film counts)

Mabel Leaf
Mabel Leaf

Where the Day Takes You would have been a good addition to this list

g.m.
g.m.

Badlands?

Marcus
Marcus

Larry Clark's Bully should've been on this.. but nice list!

SGR
SGR

Where is Rushmore?

Edward Copeland
Edward Copeland

You included most of the great ones in there but some of those titles, while fitting the subject matter, were just plain mediocre or worse. Perhaps you would have had stronger list if you stuck to 25 so lame junk such as Poison Ivy and The Good Son wouldn't have to be in there. The one film whose absence is most notable is Menace II Society, which remains strong today and underlines the weaknesses inherent in Boyz N the Hood.